At Pro Wrestling NOAH’s Destination 2021 in Tokyo’s Budokan Hall earlier today (Feb. 12), Keiji Mutoh pinned Go Shiozaki to capture the GHN Heavyweight title.
Mutoh, who most American fans know as The Great Muta from his WCW and New Japan days, becomes the third man to hold the top prize in All Japan, NJPW and NOAH. Kensuke Sasaki and Yoshihiro Takayama were the others to hold those company’s respective Triple Crown, IWGP, and GHC Heavyweight belts.
He’s also 58 years old. That puts him among the oldest people to hold a promotion’s most prestigious belt. Other names we brainstormed in the Cageside offices included Vince McMahon and Goldberg winning major WWE titles at 54 and 53, Terry Funk capturing the ECW title at 53, Genichiro Tenryu becoming All Japan’s Triple Crown champ at 52, Sting’s last TNA World title reign coming at that same age, and Ric Flair winning the WCW World Heavyweight championship at 51.
If you want to count McMahon’s ECW run from when it was a WWE brand, he was 62. But that’s up to you.
Regardless, it’s a heck of an accomplish for Mutoh, who is in great shape and still moves fairly well. His reign figures to be a short one - 24 year old Kaito Kiyomiya challenged him to close the show - but it grabs NOAH some press they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Worth watching as part of the ongoing discussion of how promotions should use older wrestlers. But mostly it’s just cool for Mutoh.